I met Rafi on a bright and sunny morning in the rainforest. He is a little man with black liquid eyes, dark skin and silver-white hair, a long-distance walker as people call him in his village in New Zealand because he is always hiking through the hills. He was born almost seventy years ago in a family with six brothers and sisters on the island of Fiji, and came to New Zealand to study science. He’s traveled the world alone, traversed Europe by train, hitch-hiked along the West coast of the United States, and sailed the Pacific islands looking for something more in life. He’s been a computer programmer all his life, and practiced yoga, tai-chi, martial arts, and studied the human mind for decades. As the sun rose from behind the hills, he poured me a cup of black-tea with powder milk, and we started sharing memories and life stories.
“I am like you” Rafi said suddenly. “All my life I’d traveled from place to place, looking for something which I couldn’t define or see. I was running away from my past, from my country, from my family – I had always been an angry man – and I was on the road for years, trying to find what was missing from my life.”
“I’m still looking” I said. “The journey was long, and it carried me from the North Pole to the South Pole, but I haven’t yet found inner peace. I am at ease when I am alone with myself and with my books, but I could never find peace in relationships, although, God knows I’ve tried so many times.”
“People have come a long way – from the savannas and the caves of Africa to being here today, and trust me it is not the ego and it is not the loneliness that brought us together, and created our world. It is our love for each other. You couldn’t have reached this far in life unless people walked besides you” said Rafi.
“Did you ever find what you were looking for?”
“My life changed when my son was born” he said.
“I don’t think I want to have kids, it’s just not for me.”
“I know. I am just like you, remember? The night my son was born, I was holding him in my arms in the hospital. He was sleeping, and I looked at him, thinking: I will teach you so many things. The moment after I had this thought, he opened his eyes and giggled, and I’ve heard a voice in my head saying: Wait and see what I am about to teach you.
My child showed me my own innocence. I lost it many years ago, as life happened to me. We are born soft and innocent, but as we grow up, we get hurt and we build rough walls around our hearts. We raise hard fences to defend our innocence, but we also forget about it. My son reminded me of my own innocence, of which I had forgotten.
I was an angry man, but when my child was born I dropped all the hardness because I’ve seen his softness. I didn’t want my hardness to hurt him, and I became soft like him. Your greatest treasure – the love in your heart – is guarded by your greatest fear – the fear to look within and love people. Lift up your eyes from your books, from your past, from your hurt and look upon all people with love, because when you look into another’s eyes and see innocence, you find it in yourself.
You can find inner peace only by realizing you are innocent, and you discover your innocence only when you see it in others.
And that my friend, is what you’ve been always looking for.”
DR. DRAGOS – Award winning writer and scientist, filmmaker of the award-winning film The Amazing You. Dragos was nominated by MIT in Innovators Under 35 for “the brightest minds in Europe changing society with their projects” and his team at Singularity University was named by Forbes “among the smartest people in the world.” He spoke on stage on 6 continents and his work has been translated in 20 languages. Read his new book: Sleepers. You can follow him on FB.
Image courtesy of Senjuti Kundu.